Crackle Plus Launching Original Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Spides’

Advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) network Crackle Plus on Sept. 3 announced the U.S. premiere of original series “Spides,” launching on Sept. 17.

The series stars Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (“Game of Thrones”) as a young woman who wakes from a coma after taking a mysterious drug alongside Falk Hentschel (“Legends of Tomorrow,” “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Florence Kasumba (Avengers, Black Panther) as local police detectives. The series also stars Damian Hardung (“Name of the Rose”), Désirée Nosbusch (“Bad Banks”), Susanne Wuest (Perfume) and Aleksandar Jovanovic (“Tatort,” “Doctor Who”).

Set in modern-day Berlin, the eight-part series originally broadcast on Syfy follows Nora (Sellers) who falls into a coma after taking an unknown drug and wakes with no memory of her previous life. Meanwhile, local police detectives David Leonhart (Hentschel) and Nique Navar (Kasumba) work to track down the drug in connection to dozens of missing teenagers. In Nora’s quest to discover what happened to her, she uncovers a conspiracy of aliens who are using a synthetic drug to infiltrate humans to use as host bodies.

In addition to “Spides,” Crackle original and exclusive titles include “Corporate Animals,” “Blue Iguana,” “Anything is Possible — The Serge Ibaka Story,” “Road to Race Day,” “On Point,” “Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters,” “The Clearing,” “Crown Vic,” “’85: The Greatest Team in Football History,” “Wonders of the Sea,” “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life,” and “Going From Broke,” which was recently picked up for a second season.

Spides is distributed in the United States by Screen Media, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, and the supplier of exclusive and original content for Crackle Plus. 

“We are delighted to add ‘Spides’ to Crackle’s slate of original programming,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement. “Our audience loves the sci-fi genre and this thrilling series will not disappoint.”

Crackle, which is minority-owned by Sony Pictures, can be accessed on 26 devices and services, including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, Smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

Crackle Joins Plex Streaming Video Platform

Crackle, the ad-supported joint venture between Sony Pictures Television and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, has joined Plex, a global streaming media platform.

Plex users will now have access to Crackle’s original content, including the recently released “On Point,” the docuseries following three high school players as they move through the AAU basketball tournaments and shoot for an enviable career in the NBA; “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life,” and the zombie action film, “The Clearing,” starring Liam MacIntyre (“Spartacus”).

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In addition to Crackle Originals, the library of content includes Chicken Soup for the Soul’s “Hidden Heroes” and “Everyday Edisons.”

“Plex has a passionate community of users and we are excited to give them full access to Crackle’s library of free movies and TV shows, including a growing number of Originals and Exclusives not available on other AVOD platforms,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, which majority-owns Crackle.

The Crackle content joins already available titles from Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, Lionsgate, and Legendary.

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Crackle Original Basketball Docuseries ‘On Point’ Tallies 12 Million Views

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment Inc., one of the largest operators of streaming advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) networks, on April 8 said the Crackle Original basketball docuseries “On Point” has gathered more than 12 million views since its Feb. 13 launch.

The 10-part docuseries offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world of prep and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball, a proving ground for top NBA players for the last several decades. “On Point” spotlights Romeo Langford, now a member of the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Scottie Lewis, now at the University of Florida, among other talented young players. Notable appearances in the series include NBA stars Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Zion Williamson.

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“We are delighted with the tremendous viewer response to this series,” said William J. Rouhana Jr., chairman and CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. “With sports seasons being cut short and cancelled altogether, ‘On Point’ has been a great option for fans to learn more about the stories behind the stars they follow on the court.”

Crackle is free to watch and available on all top streaming platforms, connected TVs, game consoles, Crackle mobile apps (iOS, Android) and at Crackle.com. The series was produced by Peter Berg and Film 45 as well as by Complex Networks and is distributed by Screen Media Ventures.

AVOD Service Crackle April 9 Bows Original Docu-Series ‘Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life’

AVOD service Crackle April 9 will debut the original docu-series “Yelawolf: A Slumerican Life.”

The 10-part series follows hip-hop artist Yelawolf as he drifts through Southern backwaters and Northern inner cities, unlocking a world the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

Also in April, Crackle hosts the exclusives Wonders of the Sea 3-D, a science documentary narrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger and co-directed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Memory: The Origins of Alien, a 2019 documentary tracing the origin of the classic “Alien” franchise through the script from Dan O’Bannon, the work of James Cameron and other filmmakers, the dark arts of H.R. Giger, to the unsettling works of H.P. Lovecraft and even the mythos of ancient Greek legends.

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Crackle Gets Exclusive Access to ‘Everyday Edisons’

Crackle, the former Sony ad-supported VOD service now owned by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSSE), has inked a distribution deal with Edison Nation for the fifth season of the Emmy Award–winning series “Everyday Edisons,” which will debut exclusively on Crackle in March.

The original four season of the series ran on PBS beginning in 2006. Featuring real inventors, the reboot includes eight new episodes, four judges and 24 new inventors. The show connects inventors with a team of mentors who provide advice in advance of their pitch before a panel of judges.

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Bringing the series back are Chris Ferguson, CEO of Edison Nation, Michael Cable, original series producer and winner of 23 Emmy Awards — including one for Outstanding Educational / Informational Program for “Everyday Edisons” — and Louis Foreman, CEO of Eventys Partners and original series co- creator.

“With its tremendous audience reach and reputation for original inspirational reality programming such as “Going from Broke” and “On Point,” Crackle is the perfect home for Everyday Edisons,” Ferguson said in a statement.

On the show, inventors gain insight on how extraordinary ideas are taken from, for example, a sketch on a napkin to a store shelf. Each episode features three inventors, each of whom has been coached by mentors, including 2019 PBA Player of the Year Jason Belmonte.

The mentors offer expert advice and help the inventors refine their pitch before presenting their unique idea to a panel of respected industry professionals. The panel includes Foreman, Ferguson, and Kelly Bagla, CEO of Go Legal Yourself, as lead judges.

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A fourth guest judge will appear in each of the episodes, including the following:

Lily Winnail — Winnail is a mompreneur, CEO and found of Padalily
Brian Fried — A successful inventor himself, Fried mentors and represents “Individual Inventors” to “Celebrities” at all stages of the invention process and is known as the Inventor Coach.
Tiffany Norwood — Norwood is a serial entrepreneur, global speaker and inventor who raised $670 million to fund WorldSpace, the first ever global digital satellite radio start-up.
Fred Cary — Cary is a senior executive, strategic consultant, attorney and investment banker. He is also the co-founder of IdeaPros.
Howie Busch — Serial Inventor and Founder of DudeRobe (as seen on Shark Tank).

One winner will be announced at the end of each episode. This inventor will receive a monetary prize of $5,000 plus a chance to work with Edison Nation to bring their product to market.

“When ‘Everyday Edisons’ first premiered in 2006, there was no other program like it,” said Michael Cable, show producer. “It is the original ‘pitch’ program and has launched many successful inventions.”

The new season will showcase various products ranging from new oral care products for individuals with disabilities to innovative new shovels, blow dryer accessories, 3-dimensional playing cards, and customizable blankets, among others.

Season 4 of “Everyday Edisons” is available for free on Crackle starting today.

TiVo: Ad-Supported VOD Gaining Traction

The subscription streaming video market is getting crowded. Pioneering behemoths like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video dominate, spending tens of billions of dollars on original content to lure and retain subscribers in the face of newcomers Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi, among others.

As a result, ad-supported VOD content is attracting greater market share, according to new data from TiVo, which found the average U.S. household had 6.9 streaming services in the fourth quarter 2019, up from five services during the same period in 2017.

At more than 73%, YouTube remains the most popular source of free streaming content, followed closely by Facebook (62.3%). Free video from network sites has skyrocketed in popularity (up 31.9% from the previous-year period), while Crackle (+2.4%), Tubi (+3.8 %), The Roku Channel (o.2%), Xumo, Vevo (+5.4%) and Twitch (+3.3%) also gained viewers.

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Indeed, 37.5% of respondents from a fourth-quarter online survey of 6,145 participants in the United States and Canada, said they were “very satisfied” with AVOD, up from 35.4% during the previous-year period. That compared to 33.1% who said they were “very satisfied” with SVOD, down from 33.5% last year.

As expected, the report found that most respondents still find new movies and TV shows to watch through SVOD services Netflix (34.7%) and Prime Video (25.2%), followed closely by free YouTube videos (23%) and pay-TV (21.2%).

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For TV series that consumers watch regularly, it’s a different story. TiVo said pay-TV dominates, with 35% of respondents indicating they find new episodes of their regularly watched series through cable or satellite TV.

Notably, respondents cited transactional VOD services such as iTunes, Amazon, Redbox On Demand, Vudu, and Google Play, among others, as go-to platforms in search of new movie content. That was ahead of platforms such as Hulu, Showtime OTT and Starz.

Another 54% of respondents say they find out about new shows or movies from commercials or ads that run within their current pay-TV or AVOD content.

“Consumers are increasingly ready and willing to adopt innovative (yet simple) technology, devices or services that can serve as guides on their quest to find what they want to watch,” read the report. “They need technology that adds value to their lives, whether by helping them efficiently locate the content they’re looking for or by leading them to the video pathways that suit their needs and desires.”

 

TiVo Adds Content Partners to Streaming Video Service

TiVo Jan. 8 formally announced an additional 23 new content partners for its ad-supported TiVo+ video network. The new channels join the current lineup of 26 streaming channels available to TiVo customers.

New content partners include USA Today, Cheddar, Top Stories by Newsy, Sportswire and MMA Junkie. Lifestyle channels include Condé Nast, Tastemade, Latido Music, Mobcrush and Revry.

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The Condé Nast partnership will bring programming from Glamour, Bon Appetit, Traveler, GQ and Wired, while the Tastemade partnership will bring Food, Travel and Home Design programming.

The comedy genre will expand to include “Funny or Die” and “The Chive”. TiVo+ Kids, movies and TV categories will now include “Mr. Bean & Friends,” “Kabillion,” “Law & Crime,” “American Classics,” “OMG! Network” and “Reel Truth.”

TiVo+ is attempting to join a growing ad-supported VOD market that includes The Roku Channel, Amazon’s IMDb TV, Pluto TV, Tubi, Shout! Factory TV and Crackle, among others.

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“In a world where people have more entertainment subscriptions than they can count on one hand, TiVo is working to bring everything together in one place for viewers,” CEO Dave Shull said in a statement.

 

AVOD: Quiet Before the Storm

With the crush of new subscription streaming VOD services entering 2020, new data from Ampere Analysis suggests ad-supported VOD, or AVOD, will build scale and roll-out internationally this year.

While AVOD use within the United States remains small compared to SVOD (from 3% to 6% of domestic online households), London-based Ampere believes this to be merely the quiet before the storm.

Major AVOD players include Pluto TV, Tubi, Crackle, Vudu, IMDb TV, Roku TV, Xumo TV, Shout! Factory TV and pending Peacock from NBC Universal, which will also be SVOD, among others.

Specifically, the researcher contends AVOD is filling the niche previously targeted by SVOD: catalog content. As SVOD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu migrate toward original programming, AVOD streams older content for free — with advertising.

The proportion of Netflix’s catalog more than five years old fell from 50% in Sept. 2015 to 35% in Sept. 2019 — a trend that will continue across the sector. In the meantime, the long tail of older content has been embraced by the new AVOD services, who average nearly 80% of their catalog at five years old by title count, and in the case of Crackle, 70% of content is over 10 years old.

This demand for older content not only provides a new market for licensing deep archive, but also offers a boon for distributors and sales agents, according to Ampere.

“AVOD is coming, and it’s going to make its mark on the VOD landscape rapidly,” Guy Bisson, director at Ampere, said in a statement. “Its impact will be felt not just by the entertainment industry, but by advertising too as the shift that has already disrupted the subscription television market sweeps across the free-to-air sector.”

As advertisers rush to support AVOD, online video advertising will inevitably increase as the platforms spread globally in 2020. To date this form of advertising has remained relatively small — even in developed markets like the U.S. where 27.2% of online ad spend is on video, and in Canada where it’s just 5.85%.

Ampere expects the rush to AVOD to be supercharged by some of the studio direct models such as Disney’s Hulu and Peacock, which are expected to adopt a hybrid SVOD/AVOD model.

“AVOD services are treading a well-trodden path with an early reliance on older content, but as their market position grows, we can expect them to begin acquiring newer content and even moving into original production activity as they battle for eyeballs in an increasingly crowded market,” Bisson said.

Ashton Kutcher-Produced ‘Going From Broke’ Series Tops 5 Million Views in Four Weeks on Crackle Plus

Media company Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment said its new Crackle Original, “Going From Broke,” from executive producer Ashton Kutcher and Matador Content has generated more five million views in four weeks since its Oct. 17th launch on Crackle.

The original series puts a spotlight on a fiscal epidemic that more 44 million Americans collectively owe $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt — a tally second only to mortgage debt.

Upon graduation, the series contends college grads entering the professional world face mounds of bills, a shrinking pool of employment opportunities and a lack of financial skills, among other issues.

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“This show has struck a chord with viewers,” William Rouhana Jr., CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, said in a statement. “There is clearly a need for this important dialog. We are encouraged by the feedback and are now considering the possibility of a second season.”

In the original series, Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig and financial expert Danetha Doe go one-on-one with young people living in pricey Los Angeles, what they thought would be The City of Dreams, to change their habits and gain financial confidence and become CEO of their own lives. Although they all come from different backgrounds and circumstances, each of the participants have one thing in common — extreme debt.

‘Going From Broke’ is executive produced by Ashton Kutcher, Rouhana and Michael Winter for Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. For Matador Content, Todd Lubin, Jay Peterson, Joel Relampagos and Jerry Carita also serve as executive producers.

Crackle is available on all top streaming platforms, connected TVs, game consoles, Crackle mobile apps (iOs, Android) and at Crackle.com. Follow #GoingFromBroke on Crackle’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Visit goingfrombroke.com for more information about the series.

As Planet Earth Turns to Streaming Video, ViacomCBS Aims for Pluto (TV)

Prior to Viacom’s re-merger with CBS Corp., the media giant had scant over-the-top video properties. Now with the addition of CBS All Access and Showtime OTT, the company claims about 16 million paying subscription streaming subscribers.

That’s 20% less than the 20 million monthly viewers who stream content for free on Pluto TV — the San Francisco-based ad-supported VOD service Viacom acquired earlier this year for $340 million.

That user tally reflects a 70% year-over-year gain in consumer traction for Pluto and underscores Viacom’s strategic move to compete against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and other high-profile SVOD services with old-school ad-supported content.

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“Our focus on an investment in Pluto is evident,” Bob Bakish, CEO of ViacomCBS, said on the recent fiscal call. “In Q4 alone, Pluto launched 43 new channels and last month, Pluto Latino added 11 new channels given the platform of total 22 channels with over 4,000 hours of Spanish and Portuguese language programming.”

The opportunity for Pluto TV Latino is significant given the size of the Hispanic population, as well as gaps within the existing programming landscape. As the largest minority market, the group has a combined buying power of $1.5 trillion, according to research from the University of Georgia.

The once-dominant Spanish-language broadcast network, Univision, has been steadily losing viewers for years and has been locked in a battle with Comcast-owned Telemundo for younger, bilingual viewers. Meanwhile, streaming services such as Hulu, Sling, and fuboTV offer Spanish-language content, but the additional cost of these services is leading to “subscription fatigue.”

“There are all sorts of creative programming ideas we can test with the audience that hasn’t been done before,” Tom Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Pluto TV, said. “If they work, we can be nimble and double down on them.”

Indeed, AVOD revenue is projected to more than double between 2018 and 2024, topping $56 billion across 138 countries — including the U.S.

Next year, NBC Universal is launching an ad-supported streaming service dubbed “Peacock,” which joins industry players such Tubi TV, which bowed in 2014 with more than 9,000 movies and television shows, Amazon’s IMDb TV and The Roku Channel, among others.

“The U.S. will more than triple its AVOD revenue total between 2018 and 2024 to $19.23 billion — or 34% of the global total,” said Simon Murray, analyst with Digital TV Research.

Bakish said Viacom would continue to grow Pluto TV distribution globally and on new platforms, which he said would benefit both viewers and business partners.

He said Pluto has not only been a driver to restoring overall Viacom ad sales growth, it’s also been a platform to enable Viacom to “radically” increase the number of clients it does business with.

“In the crowded subscription universe, as consumers become increasingly more value conscious, we strongly believe that having the leading free streaming service in the country and over time, the world is a huge competitive advantage,” Bakish said.